cannabis flower bud

How Reliable Are THC Percentages At Cannabis Dispensaries?

Thanks to the hard work of countless cannabis activists working tirelessly over the course of several decades, cannabis is legal to purchase in more jurisdictions now than at any other point since the dawn of prohibition. Reputable cannabis dispensaries offer a variety of products, including flower, edibles, vape cartridges, concentrates, topicals, and other things.

Unfortunately, when it comes to cannabis flower and some other products, there’s a dirty little industry secret that many do not want to talk about. The dirty little secret is that THC percentage lab results are not always reliable (gasp).

The problem is due to a concept known as ‘THC lab test shopping.’ It involves cultivators submitting samples to multiple testing facilities, receiving differing results for THC percentages, and using the result with the highest THC percentage for displaying their product(s) at dispensaries.

This is not to say that THC percentages are completely fake, or for that matter that it’s an inherently deceptive practice. However, it is something that goes on wherever dispensaries operate and there are multiple testing facilities in the area.

Who Is To Blame For THC Lab Test Shopping?

This phenomenon is not the cannabis dispensary’s fault. After all, they are just passing along what the cultivator provides, although they may provide favorable shelf space to higher THC products. This is also not the grower’s or testing laboratory’s fault either. The grower is passing along what the testing lab provides, and if it’s a reputable testing laboratory then it’s a valid result. It’s also not the laboratory’s fault because they are providing a science-based analysis.

Consumer Shopping Habits Drive THC Lab Test Shopping

If there is any blame to be applied, it should be applied to the cannabis consumer base, a significant chunk of which determines its entire purchasing decision on THC percentage alone. Sometimes the product with the greatest THC percentage gets the consumer the ‘highest,’ however, that is not always necessarily always the case.

Terpene Profiles

The amount and ratio of terpenes within a cannabis product, especially flower and concentrates, is a much more reliable indicator of what effects a consumer or patient can expect to experience. Terpenes are organic compounds found within the cannabis plant that provides cannabis’ smell and taste. Terpene profiles are not nearly as common right now as cannabinoid percentages at dispensaries, however, they are gaining in popularity as consumers become more educated on why they are more useful compared to relying solely on THC percentage.